Sunday, November 17, 2013

What's in a name, 'Monza" and "Monza Spyder".

The Spyder package?

In mid 1974, the Chevy Monza made it's public debut. It sold well and soon thereafter,  in late 1976/77, the Monza was ready to be treated to the latest trend's in the sporty car market...  Decals.

Being a car that was also one of the first models created under heavy government regulation's on Mileage, Emissions and Safety... there really wasn't a way to boost the engine's power very much, without raising the price of the car astronomically.. and it was already as fast (top speed) as the 13" tire technology could safely allow.
 Chevy also had Camaro's and Corvette's to sell as well, so a super fast Monza wasn't in the playbook for the car.

 But what you could do to match a car's upgraded performance looks... was to give it upgraded handling..

This 'Spyder' handling package had been created a year earlier and offered on the 1976 monza.
These 76's had subtle Spyder scripts on the fenders and spyder emblems front and back instead of the standard chevy bowtie regular monza's received..

Cool and subtle and tasteful, but 'subtle' doesn't sell cars.  So...

The Spyder decal package was an eye grabber to let it be known that this was the monza model that could handle the corner's..

Why "Spyder"??   After all in automotive term's or at least as far as Alfa Romeo and Ferrari are concerned,  the designation 'Spyder' denotes a convertible model.

The pass GM get's on the use of  spyder for a non-convertible, goes back to the Corvair days.

The Corvair, the GM' 1960's futuristic  'small car' was novel for it's time with it's rear mounted engine.
When the Corvair needed an image boost, it was able to get a turbocharger for the engine.
  I'm no Corvair historian, but I know the sport version got the name Monza.
So you could have a Corvair, OR.. you could have a Corvair Monza..

And since the body architecture allowed for a convertible... the king of the hill Corvair, was the Corvair "Monza Spyder"..    

During the days before the introduction of the 1975 Monza.. There was a time when the car didn't have a name..   what to call it?  Camaro II?  Corvelle?  Gemini?
The car was almost called the "Chapparelle" I pronounce that "shap-rall" .
But long story short, GM wouldn't agree to the term's of the names owner, and wasn't sold on the name.

When deadlines came to get the cars body emblems tooled up, GM reached back into their catalog of owned and established names and settled for "Monza". This time with 2+2 at the end.
This set it apart from the name used with the Corvair.  It indicated the cars design intention, once again with a Ferrari term for a 2 seater, with 2 excuses for seats added right behind the front seats.
That worked well for this Monza with it's rear seatroom perfect for kid's to young adults.
It also worked to fit in with it's competiton from Ford, the Mustang "II".
Chevy had a 2 too , +2.. !

So there's the monza part..  And when it was time to give the car an image that fit in with the competitions "Snake" and "Cobra" themes,  what could work well with Monza?  "Spyder!"
So what, if it wasn't a convertible!  ...the car needed a sinister animal figure for the decal. Scorpion was generic and might have required some licencing.. Crocodile and/or Brown bear didn't fit well. The Eagle (screaming chicken) was already taken so hence the large spider decal on the hood, and Spyder Graphic's on the side. Although still a challenge to market as the brochure above suggests..what has "8 leg's 4 wheel's and Flies"???  -An old motor home found deep in the wooded hill's of Tenesee??

But the bold arachnid decals were only applied to cars that had an upgraded suspension package. A base engine was fine, but the car had to have "RPO Z01"  Spyder performance package ordered first, before the decal package could be added.

A Spyder's ordered with V8, did have it's straight line 'performance' altered slightly.  
A dual tailpipe exhaust was used, standard with the V8 and Spyder package, optional on everything else.
There is a rumor that from the factory Spyders also used a 2-1/2" rear pipe vs. the 2-1/4 for a stock V8.
The pipe (cat-back) was available in the early 80's and then discontinued and quickly forgotten about.
The would have helped the cars breath a little better than they did (stock) above 4500 rpm.

 Find out More about the Spyder option in an upcoming installment to be titled
 "Monza Spyder Spotter's guide '76 to '80"

See you then!


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